Early Career Spotlight

Peter Tereszkiewicz 

Tell us about yourself:

I'm from Alabama and consider it my home. I completed an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science with a certificate in GIS at the University of West Florida. Not knowing what the future held I stayed on for a masters degree with a focus in coastal geomorphology under the guidance of Dr. Klaus Meyer-Arendt. That research took me down to the Yucatan coast in Mexico to study the impact human-engineered structures had on shoreline change. Post-masters, I decided to pursue a PhD in aeolian geomorphology at the University of South Carolina under the supervision of Dr. Jean T. Ellis.


What is your research about?

My research explores the linkages between vegetation dynamics and landform change. I dominantly work within disturbed environments and stressed ecosystems, typically arriving on site post-storm with the intent of measuring system recovery. Currently my PhD research is examining the role beach wrack has on dune vegetation emergence, and how that emergence drives foredune development.


What excites you about your research?

Just getting out to the field! Every visit is different and unpredictable in some way. I work on the interface between land and sea, which presents inherent chaos. Initially this type of uncertainty is disheartening and humbling, but after working with it for a while you just learn to roll with the punches. My dissertation field project has easily been rebuilt half a dozen times because of unavoidable environmental disturbances.


What broader importance does your research have for society?

Dunes are the first line of defense to storms, and I study how those lines re-form post-disturbance. With increasing storminess on the horizon, I feel now is a vital time to understand dune recovery and find ways that we can expedite that process.


What inspired you to pursue a career in Earth Science?

I love the outdoors! Especially type 2 fun (meaning when weather or other situations turn against you), which is all to common in the field sciences. Additionally, there's something purely magical about measuring and analyzing signals from the natural world. For an instance, you are let into a world that few people have access to, and it's truly incredible.


What are you looking to do after you complete your PhD or postdoc?

End goal is a tenure-track professor position, but the future is un-predictable and might take a few turns before making it back into academia. At the end of the day I love to teach. No matter where my career takes me, I will always find time to continue lecturing in some capacity. 


Given unlimited funding and access to resources, what is your dream project that you would pursue?

Mending the scale disparity in geomorphology. How exactly....I have a few ideas....but need to figure out a few more....so let's collaborate :)


What else do you do? Any hobbies or interests outside of work?

My biggest hobby is collecting hobbies, haha. Among the many I have, the ones that stick out the most are: climbing, white-water paddling, bike maintenance, painting, home-brewing, and music.

Peter Tereszkiewicz surveying nebkha along the South Carolina coast.